Apple Needs APT

I just read Jeff Atwood’s post about the sorry state of software installation on OSX. I couldn’t agree more. Since I switched months ago, this is just about the only thing I have found to truly hate about the Mac.

But Jeff didn’t even mention half of the problem: un-installation. Because of the Mac’s drag-and-drop install philosophy, there is no control panel or other UI which answers the question, “What the hell is installed on this thing anyway?” This leads to 3rd party solutions like AppZapper — what a mess!

Apple should solve the install process forever, in the grand tradition of Apple innovation, by ripping off someone else’s idea. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best. In this case, there are much better sources of inspiration than Windows. Apple could completely leap-frog Microsoft and adopt Debian’s fantastic APT system. For the uninitiated, here’s all you need to know:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

(Hint: every freaking piece of software installed on your machine is now up to date.)

All they’d have to do is slap a decent GUI around it and encourage developers to package and upload their software. I suppose they’d also want to add an iTunes-store like payment system, for that pesky commercial stuff.

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4 Responses to “Apple Needs APT”


  1. 1 Jeff Atwood July 22, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    > Because of the Mac’s drag-and-drop install philosophy, there is no control panel or other UI which answers the question, “What the hell is installed on this thing anyway?” This leads to 3rd party solutions like AppZapper — what a mess!

    Ah, you’re right. I didn’t even consider that.

    Add/remove programs in Windows has its issues (depending on how well the installer was written) but it’s a solidly reliable indicator of what’s installed on a given machine. I do visit it for that reason..

  2. 2 Joe July 23, 2007 at 9:45 am

    ‘Because of the Mac’s drag-and-drop install philosophy, there is no control panel or other UI which answers the question, “What the hell is installed on this thing anyway?”’

    Not so. Assuming that you actually install your applications in the Applications folder, you can see a full list of what apps you have installed by selecting “Applications” in the System Profiler.

  3. 3 Mark July 24, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Thanks, Joe, I hadn’t noticed that.

  4. 4 Mark November 17, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    I just had another thought on this subject…

    Often software is distributed as a dmg (disk image) containing an install program. I typically run the installer and then discard the dmg. This is a problem because, often the dmg contains the uninstaller too.

    What am I supposed to do? Keep the dmgs for every installed program?


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